More than a game – the importance of football to Brazilian culture

Football is the most important sport in Brazil. Often referred to as ‘o País do Futebol’ or ‘the country of football,’ football culture in Brazil is unlike any other. This sport is deeply ingrained in the everyday life and culture of this Latin American country – it’s a national passion and found everywhere you go. Read on to test your knowledge and discover some interesting facts about Brazilian football.

1. Football culture in Brazil is a lifestyle 

Football in Brazil is found everywhere! You’ll find children playing in the streets with their friends, locals chatting about matches, players or trades while enjoying local cuisine at a neighbourhood restaurant or bar or employers giving staff time off to watch the FIFA World Cup games. It truly is an important part of Brazilians culture and way of life. 

Did you know that over 16,000 Brazilians play professionally around the world and over 776 professional football clubs exist in Brazil? The passion for this sport can be seen not only throughout the entire country but worldwide as well. 

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Young children posing with soccer or football in Brazil

2. Children learn about the sport at a young age

In North America, the sport is often called soccer but in Brazil, the game is called football or ‘futebol’ in Portuguese. Children learn about Brazilian football at a young age from their parents and families and it is often taught in schools as well as during gym or physical education classes. 

The rules of football teach kids to be fair, responsible, persevere, be determined and much more – both on and off the field. Whether they are playing on the streets, fields or beaches with friends for fun or competitively in a club, the rules are easily understood and followed by all in every aspect of life. 

Football also plays an important role in socioeconomic classes throughout the country. Children of disadvantaged families grow up thinking football could be their one ticket to success. They see how successful professional players are and how they started, so it’s very aspirational and they grow up dreaming to provide a better life for their family. When asked, many children throughout Brazil will say when they grow up, they want to be a footballer. 

3. Football was first introduced to Brazil in the 1800s

Although this sport did not originate here, football in Brazil has become a huge part of the country’s heritage. There are many theories and stories of how this iconic sport came to be in Brazil but, Charles Miller was believed to be the individual responsible for bringing football to his home country. 

Miller travelled to England for school and returned home to São Paulo in 1894, bringing with him two footballs and a rulebook. He later shared his knowledge and love for the game and is now considered to be the “father of football in Brazil.” 

To date, the well-known ‘Museu do Futebol’ or the Football Museum in São Paulo, features an interactive exhibit on the history, practice and memorabilia related to Football in Brazil. Located in the Pacaembu Stadium, one of Brazil’s oldest football stadiums which still hosts games to this day, it also features a tribute to Miller and its 15 theme-oriented rooms are a must-see by any football fan. 

Brazilian flags and soccer or football

4. Football can unite Brazilians

Football offers a chance for Brazilians to meet new people. Often throughout the year in local and national championship football leagues, Brazilians will stand with their go-to teams and tensions may be present. However, international events such as the FIFA World Cup offer an opportunity to unite all and join as one to support Brazil’s football team. Whether locals are playing recreationally, in a football club for fun or cheering for their country during the World Cup, this national sport brings together the entire population regardless of age, race, gender identity, culture, and socioeconomic status, igniting a spirit like no other. 

5. Brazil’s national football team has won more FIFA World Cups than any other country 

Brazil’s national football team has won over five FIFA World Cup titles, more than any other nation in the world (in 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and 2002). Brazil is also the only country to qualify for every FIFA World Cup and the only country with the most goals scored of all time – quite the accomplishments! 

Brazil has also been known to produce some of the best footballers in the world including Ronaldo de Assis Moreira, commonly known as Ronaldinho, Edson Arantes do Nascimento widely recognized as Pelé, and Neymar da Silva Santos Júnior, known as Neymar. Female footballer Marta Vieira da Silva who goes by Marta, holds the record for scoring the most goals at the FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments. 

Soccer or football on grass field in middle of stadium

6. Brazilians even play a unique style of football

Around the globe, Brazilians are known for their unique football playing characteristics. Their creative style is known as dribbling and is truly a form of art to witness on the field. In football, this is considered to be an advanced manoeuvre but when mastered, it is one of the most useful tactics in the sport to individually control the ball away from an opponent and hopefully score a goal! 

7. Helps Brazil’s economic and travel industry 

Brazilian football has held the FIFA World Cup twice, in 1950 and 2014. In order to prepare for such a popular and famous worldwide event, the country had to update stadiums, airports, cities and transportation in order to prepare for the events. The FIFA World Cup events were held throughout the country including Maracanã Stadium, officially named Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho in Rio de Janeiro, which was built to host the first FIFA World Cup and was updated for the second. This is the biggest stadium in Brazil and the true “temple” of football, where every Brazilian player dreams of playing at, and an iconic landmark for football fans and tourists. Also, to accommodate travellers from all over the world, hotels and shopping centers were also adapted. Brazil saw a major boost in their tourism industry during the World Cups.  

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Do you know of any additional facts about football culture in Brazil? Share your thoughts and comments below…

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